While Snow City is still too crowded, we’re featuring Al Salam Park first. Why not? Al Salam Park has been in Riyadh since forever. Haha! And why I did not go there sooner, I don’t know. Oh right, I know. I expected the park to be crowded, dirty, and underwhelming. Sorry for being judgmental like that. But last weekend, I found out that my low expectations of one of Riyadh’s largest parks are all unfounded. I was missing an eighth of my Riyadhizen life by not visiting Al Salam Park (what have I been doing all my eight years in Saudi Arabia?!). Al Salam Park is actually nice, clean, and a great place to relax with families and friends. It might be a little bit old-fashioned but parks are still the best (and cheapest) way to spend some quality time.
Al Salam Park used to be a farm land famous for its quality date palms. It used to be under private ownership that accommodated a residential palace, various government buildings, and a 70-year-old mosque. The farm was then converted to a park so that it can be opened to locals and expats in need of recreational activities at a convenient location. The park is located in a 312 thousand square meters and is in the Qasr Al Hokm area, bordered by the King Fahd Road on the West, the Tariq bin Ziad Road on the North, Salam Road on the East and Aseer Road on the South. It’s pretty much easy to go to. Just cruise along King Fahd Road and exit Al Madinah Al Munawarrah Road. There’s an ongoing construction in that street so for now, you need to go right and look for the nearest U-turn. After that go straight until the park is in your right and then go to Salam Road for the gates to the park and for parking areas.
The biggest draw to this park is its lake built on an area of 33 thousand square meters filled with 140 thousand cubic meters of water. It has various depths and the deepest point is at five meters. You might be thinking where does the water of the lake come from and is it safe? That’s also one of our major concerns especially knowing that this is a man-made lake. The ArRiyadh Development Authority, in charge of parks in the city, has taken many safety measures and precautions to ensure the cleanliness and continuous movement of the lake water. The lake has a bed of paved clay and insulation materials to preserve the water and there are pumps to create current. Purified water is provided through water tunnels. The lake in Salam Park is divided into two: one is for boating and the other one to represent natural life that will attract local and migrating birds. [More details here.]
Entrance fee to the park is SR 5. Pretty cheap if you think about it. While it is said that the park has a parking lot for over 300 cars, it gets really full early, especially during eid and winter time. We had a hard time looking for an empty space but we eventually found one a bit far from the gate. If you forgot to bring mats or blankets or chairs to sit on, there are vendors outside the park selling these from SR 15 up, depending on what will suit your need. It’s an affordable option because the next time you visit the park, or any other parks, you can bring them again for use (just don’t forget it!).
My friends and I decided to have a picnic inside but we didn’t bring any food. Thankfully there are snack kiosks inside the park. There were stores for shawarma, broasted chicken, burgers, and pizzas. There were also carts selling cotton candy, ice cream, fried potatoes, popcorn, etc. It looked like a mini carnival inside with all the sweet and savory snacks.
I was really surprised with the park. It’s huuuge and even though it’s quite crowded, the number of people in an area is not so annoying. You’ll know when you’re in a too crowded place when you just want to go out of it pronto. It’s not the case in Salam Park. You’ll eventually find a space in the grass areas where you can put your mat and enjoy a picnic. We settled in a grassy patch with a bench somewhere near the lake. I went closer the lake and found some families dipping their feet in the water. There were steps to the lake but the management doesn’t encourage people to swim or play in the lake. (There are no lifeguards around people!)
A bridge separates the lake into two, one is for a large boat where people pay SR 10 to be cruised around the lake one time! One time! Haha. I personally think it’s a waste of time. It’s better to walk around the lake and explore the nooks and cranny of the park to discover it. The other area is for small boats in various kinds for kids. This reminded us of our very own Burnham Park in Baguio, Philippines. There were swan boats too! There was a man with a megaphone instructing the kids, or maybe he’s yelling at them to come to the shore already because their time is up (not sure, because he’s shouting in Arabic, haha!). There’s a corner that has these big balls where kids can go inside and just roll around. And the cutest activity is for smaller kids to be row their own boats in a smaller pond. Most of the activities are SR 10 for a few minutes.
Also, the park is a good place for Pokemon hunting, just in case you’re into the latest craze Pokemon Go on your smartphones. My husband and our other male friends were walking around in the area, their eyes stuck to their phone screens hoping that there will be a Pokemon around. Haha! I think that’s the main motivator why they went to Salam Park anyway. Hahaha! You can find water Pokemons near the lake. Just a tip. Haha!
What really impressed me with Salam Park is the cleanliness. I wasn’t really expecting the place to be totally spic and span but it was okay. There were attendants picking up and throwing trash to their proper places and their restrooms are clean (alleluia!). There were also attendants in the restroom who clean and mops the floor every few minutes. The entire park is not totally clean but that’s because some visitors are not responsible enough to throw their trash to the proper garbage bins which are all around the place. If everyone cleans their spot before they leave then Salam Park will be cleaner.
And another thing I like about Salam Park is how green it is. You’ll think because this is Riyadh, it’s devoid of anything green. Haha! But in Salam Park, the grass are green and lush, the date palms are growing well. So it’s a refreshing change. If you want to escape the concrete jungle of Riyadh, then visit this place and you’ll be in another world. I don’t suggest going here though during daytime because it’s so darn hot nowadays. The temperature at night time is a bit forgiving but it’s still warm. Visiting Salam Park is most perfect when Riyadh is just at the cusp of winter, not too hot and not to cold.
A visit to Salam Park os a must especially if you have kids. They will enjoy the activities for them. Sorry for the blurred photos. We went at night because the weather is more conducive for visiting. Go in the morning or afternoon when the weather is a bit cooler. We’ll go back one of these days to check our the place when the sun is still up and take photos again. 🙂
PS. Thank you to our friends Em, Richie, Gwen, Byrone, Mary Joy, and Jomel for suggesting this place. It was fun! More road trips guys! 😉
Al Salam Park
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia [MAP]
Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 12:00 MN
Entrance Ticket: SR 5